Kingswood Breaks World Record at 91

By Frank Christie

The amazing Alida Kingswood keeps on breaking world records. Competing in front of a hometown crowd at the 2023 World Rowing Indoor Championships (WRICH 2023) at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre in Mississauga, Ont.  the 91-year-old, Kingswood (Woodstock, Ont.) shattered the world record in the lightweight women’s 90-94 2000m category, crossing the finish line in a time of 10:33.30. Kingswood bested the previous world record of 12:07.50 by over 90 seconds.

“I do this for my children and my grandchildren,” said Kingswood after her record setting race. “I always tell them I’m not a mother who does crafts or bakes cookies. I like to compete and work hard. I want to leave them with something that inspires them.”

Competing for the first time as a lightweight and for the first time in-person at a WRICH, Kingswood came out of the gates strong and held a steady pace throughout the first 1000m. As fatigue set in over the second half of the race, Kingswood was helped to the finish line by the cheering spectators as she pushed hard in search of the world record. A favourite among the crowd and her fellow competitors, Kingswood acknowledged the audience support with a thumbs up following the race and was greeted with congratulations by her fellow competitors and a standing ovation by the enthusiastic crowd on Saturday morning as she cooled down.

Kingswood, who looked as though she could jump back on the erg and do another 2000m after breaking the world record, was asked how she keeps performing at such a high level in her early 90’s.

“When people see me compete, they say ‘wow, I couldn’t do that’. But I always say you can This is God’s grace. God gives me the strength and health at this age. I go to the gym four times a week, so I recover fast.”

Kingswood had a host of family members at the event cheering her on, and no doubt helping her through those final few hundred metres in yet another inspiring performance.

Even her fellow competitors were impressed. Heather MacDonald was racing beside Kingswood on the arena floor and is from the nearby Don Rowing Club. She came by to congratulate Kingswood after her race.

“The world is just happy to see you there,” MacDonald told her.

Kingswood’s story in indoor rowing began years ago after she tried out a Concept2 for the first time during a visit with her son Matt, who also raced on Saturday in the Men’s 55-59 2000m race.

Alida Kingswood took well to the erg and enjoyed it so when she returned home, she purchased a Concept2 for herself. After some time away from the sport, she re-invested herself during the COVID-19 pandemic and competed in her first WRICH in 2021, breaking her own world record, which she set a few weeks earlier, in the masters women’s 85-89 category in a time of 10:11.08. She followed up that performance a year a later by breaking another world record, this time in the masters women 90-94 category, in a time of 10:29.30.

“It’s a wonderful blessing and privilege that at her age she’s still well and fit enough to compete in an event like this,” said Matt. “We’ve learned a lot of lessons as a family from both my parents, but from my Mom, it’s the message of don’t ever quit, that’s the big one. There is certainly a sense of pride to seeing her compete and break world records. We love her and we’re her biggest fans.”

Matt Kingswood added, “Who knows what she’ll do next.  She’s asked me about other sports she could do so we’ll see.

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